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Bad behaviour ‘not taken seriously enough’ in schools

Disruptive behaviour in schools has not been taken seriously enough in the past, according to the Government’s behaviour tsar


Tom Bennett also suggested that some schools are facing greater challenges than others, and there needs to be better ways available to help them tackle the problem.

His comments come as his independent review of behaviour in schools, commissioned by the Department for Education, was published.

The report – Creating A Culture: How School Leaders Can Optimise Behaviour – concludes that there is no silver bullet to tackling disruptive conduct.

But it says there are a number of approaches that can be used to deal with the issue, and that good school leadership is key to creating the right culture in a school.

Ahead of the report’s publication, Mr Bennett told BBC News online that his review had found there was enough evidence of a problem with behaviour nationally for it to be a concern, although he did add that in any school, most of the time, behaviour is largely civil and co-operative.

“Behaviour has not been taken seriously enough in the past, and the official data underestimates the extent of the problem in all schools,” he said.

Official data kept by Ofsted has underestimated the issue, Mr Bennett suggested, adding that he would like to see behaviour tracked at school level and brought together in an anonymised survey.

Ofsted told the BBC that effective behaviour management was essential for pupils’ learning and wellbeing.

In a statement, Mr Bennett said that students’ behaviour is crucial to how far they succeed, academically and socially.

“There are many tremendous schools doing a superb job, and some schools that could improve a great deal,” he said.

“I spoke to leaders of coastal schools, inner city schools, rural, primary, secondary, alternative provision and asked them what they did.

“Every school has different circumstances and challenges, but we found that some themes were almost universal: clear routines, robustly administered, high expectations and a focus on building a strong sense of identity and good relationships where children feel they belong, are safe, and are expected to do their best.

“That’s why I called it Creating a Culture. Because these things don’t happen by accident.

“We also need to acknowledge that in some schools, challenges faced are greater than in others, and in these circumstances we need to look at better ways of guaranteeing that provision, skill sets and support are available.

“The skills required to improve school behaviour cultures already exist within the ecosystem of schools. The challenge now is for us to collaborate as a community to do so.”

Headteachers should be offered training in creating behaviour policies, Mr Bennett told the BBC, and suggested that school leaders be required to show that they have an understanding of behaviour management.

“Teachers alone, no matter how skilled, cannot intervene with the same impact as a school leader can,” he said.

A culture of good conduct needs to be well-established in schools, with clear rules and consequences for pupils.

Children’s minister Edward Timpson, said: “Part of our plan for Britain is building a fairer society – with a good school place for every child.

“That means children being able to learn in classrooms that are free from disruption. Tom Bennett’s report is relevant, insightful and draws on tried and tested methods that will provide real help to teachers across the country.

“I would encourage all school leaders to use its practical examples to help create a positive environment that addresses the needs of their pupils.”

The Government said it would be taking a number of measures, including reforming National Professional Qualifications from this September, to give school leaders the knowledge and skills they need to deal with bad behaviour and conducting further research into what helps young people with behaviour issues.

An Ofsted spokeswoman said: “We will discuss with the Department for Education matters identified for government which are relevant to Ofsted and consider in detail the recommendations for inspection.

“Whilst no immediate changes are proposed to the current school inspection arrangements, any actions in response to the recommendations will be considered as part of our future plans.”

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